REFUGEE COUNCIL MONTHLY REPORT
Meeting of the Refugee Council members took place online on Sunday afternoon. During the meeting it was discussed the recent activities of organization (organization got NGO status, the number of members and volunteers in the organization increased, it was introduced a new logotype, established cooperation with LCC International University and Mykolas Romeris University, organization completed a project with Vilnius International school in which refugee children and Lithuanian children shared personal stories) and the plans for future. Members of organization who came from different countries and are living now in Lithuania shared their concerns about children education and the struggles to maintain their identity while living in a different culture. Children learn and adapt quickly to a new culture and languages. For this reason, it becomes difficult to maintain a good knowledge of their native language while living in Lithuania.
Living in a different country and culture is a challenge for everyone. Usually, a bigger attention is given to an adaptation to a new culture and country itself. A process of adaptation might be easier for children who are learning fast and adapt quickly. According scientists, in order to achieve the level of a native speaker children should start learning a new language by the age of 10. So, it shows that children under 10 years old are the most efficient learners of a new language. Even though the integration into a new country is important, children learn quickly a new language but the knowledge of their native language is not increasing as they speak in their native language only with family members. Parents express the concern that their children are good speakers of English, Lithuanian or Russian language (depends on school at which they are enrolled) but they do not know how to write or read in their native language.
Language is one of the elements of a cultural identity. Language, values and traditions are transmitted from one generation to another. By living in a foreign country, it might become a challenge to maintain those traditions and strong skills of native language. Especially it is a challenge for the children who grow in a different culture and even do not know much about their own culture. So, maintain and improve native language skills is a crucial thing preserving identity.
A status of “refugee” is not forever, people are willing to return home. According the UN Refugee Agency (2021) during the period 2010 - 2019 around 3.9 million refugees returned to home country (total amount of refugees is around 26 million). However, to return home by growing up in a different culture it might be a challenge as children become better speakers of a foreign language than their native language. For this reason, not only integration in a new country is important but also the efforts to maintain identity, native language and traditions should be considered as an important part of children life in a foreign country.